NextEra begins construction of Sholes Wind Energy Center in Nebraska

/  NextEra Energy Resources and Omaha Power Public District (OPPD) have started construction of the new renewable energy project, Sholes Wind Energy Center, in Nebraska, US.

Featuring 71 GE wind turbines, the centre will have the capacity to generate nearly 160MW of clean energy.

NextEra Energy Resources president and CEO Armando Pimentel said: “This project represents a more than $200m investment in Nebraska.

“We are pleased to partner with OPPD to bring low-cost, renewable energy to their customers, and for the tremendous support we have received from the community of Wayne and Stanton Counties, many of whom stand to benefit from the project for years to come.”

A NextEra Energy Resources’ affiliate will build, own and operate the project, while the energy generated from this facility will be supplied to OPPD customers under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

OPPD president and CEO Timothy J Burke said: “The inclusion of the Sholes wind farm in OPPD’s generation portfolio not only helps us reach our renewables commitments but will also have a positive economic impact on the surrounding area.

“We look forward to working with NextEra Energy Resources to provide environmentally sensitive electricity to our public power customer-owners.”

The Sholes Wind Energy Center project is expected to create nearly 200 jobs during the construction phase as well as up to ten full-time jobs.

Slated to begin operations in December, the wind energy centre is expected to provide more than $30m in property taxes to Wayne and Stanton Counties over its first 30 years of operation.  /


MIC to sell BEC power generation facility in US for $900m

/  US-based Macquarie Infrastructure (MIC) has agreed to sell its 644MW power generation facility, the Bayonne Energy Center (BEC) in New Jersey, to an undisclosed buyer for nearly $900m in cash and assumed debt.

BEC is a gas-fired, mid-merit electricity generation facility, constructed in 2012 and further expanded this year.

The facility supplies electricity to New York City through a cable that runs beneath New York Harbour to a substation situated in Brooklyn, New York.

MIC acquired BEC in 2015, and the facility is currently operated by its International-Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT) business.

The transaction, which is subject to receipt of customary regulatory and other approvals, values BEC at approximately $1,400/kW of generating capacity.

MIC CEO Christopher Frost said: “Having completed various capacity and capability expansion projects at BEC, we concluded that this was an appropriate time to sell the facility and redeploy the proceeds to address strategic priorities including strengthening our balance sheet.”

MIC intends to use part of the net proceeds, nearly $650m, to reduce debt including $150m outstanding on the revolving credit facility at its IMTT business.

The remaining amount will be used by the company to fund a portion of MIC’s planned growth capital deployments.

Additionally, the MIC Board will consider options for returning any excess capital to the company’s shareholders.

The completion of the deal is expected to take place during the fourth quarter of this year.  /


Soluna builds wind-powered blockchain computing facility in Morocco

/  US-based Soluna Technologies is all set to launch its utility-scale blockchain computing facility, which will be integrated with its own renewable energy resources in Morocco.

As part of this initiative, the company is planning to develop a 900MW wind farm power plant in Morocco.

Spread across 37,000 acres in southern Morocco, Soluna’s flagship wind farm is said to be a Class I wind site, where wind speeds reach over 22 miles per hour.

Soluna’s new wind farm has been designed for off-grid operation, but the company is planning to connect it with the grid.

As part of this plan, Soluna anticipates that the high-voltage transmission lines will reach the site by mid-next year.

In 2016, the King of Morocco unveiled plans to produce more than 52% of its electricity through green power by 2030 and create over 6GW of renewable projects by 2020.

The new wind farm will be combined with the company’s private computing facilities to help power the blockchain in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way.

Soluna CEO John Belizaire said: “Our vision is to power the blockchain with clean, renewable energy that we own and control.

“Soluna will address the growing demand for energy to power today’s growing blockchain networks, and will create the world’s first ‘service node’, providing high-density computing for future blockchain networks.”

The new blockchain technology will focus on vertical integration and utility-scale computing operations.

Under vertical integration, the company intends to develop renewable energy power plants, which will be dedicated to on-site high-density computing infrastructure.  /


Ofgem approves Hinkley Point C power grid upgrade

/  The National Grid has received approval from British energy regulator Ofgem to build a power grid upgrade connecting EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset, UK.

Construction of the upgrade, called the Hinkley-Seabank (HSB) project, will cost around £650m and is intended to enable the safe connection of the Hinkley Point C station, as well as provide additional power capacity and ease transmission restraints in the southwest of the UK.

Ofgem’s proposals are due to be formalised either later this year or in early 2019, although the National Grid has said it would review the details beforehand, adding: “Ofgem’s decision does not affect our commitment to delivering HSB to time and to quality as per our license obligations”.

Under the terms of Ofgem’s approval, it will be able to limit the amount of revenue National Grid can earn from the upgrade.

The regulator’s executive director for systems and networks Jonathan Brearley said the revenue limit is part of the company’s “ongoing programme to ensure that consumers get reliable and secure power supplies at a fair price … evolving regulation to deliver the upgrades to our power network while ensuring the impact on bills is kept as low as possible.”

The energy regulator hopes to save customers more than £5bn under the new scheme, enforcing stricter price controls for energy producers.

EDF’s Hinkley C project will be Britain’s first new nuclear power plant since 1995. Built at a cost of £20bn and intended to begin energy generation in 2025, it will be the most expensive power station in the world.

The company is currently building a similar facility in Flamanville, Normandy, though this project has faced significant delays due to construction problems and has caused some speculation over whether the Hinkley project will be completed on time.

Hinkley C is expected to provide low-carbon power for around six million homes and create over 25,000 new jobs, though its high cost has invited widespread criticism.

Paul Dorfman from the UCL Energy Institute told The Guardian: “It’s three times over cost and three times over time where it’s been built in Finland and France. This is a failed and failing reactor.”  /


EIB offers €50m loan for Greenalia Group’s biomass power plant

/  A subsidiary of Greenalia Group has received a loan of €50m from the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the development of a new biomass-fired power plant in Spain.

Located in the municipalities of Curtis and Teixeiro in La Coruña, the plant will generate power using nearly 500,000 tonnes of forest biomass a year.

By using this method, the plant not only helps in forest maintenance but also prevents fire. Additionally, the biomass used by the Curtis-Teixeiro plant will be certified by Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification.

Upon completion, the power plant will be capable of generating approximately 324GWh (50MW) of electricity annually, using forest waste that is sourced within a 100km radius of the facility.

It will be the first biomass plant financed by the EIB under the European Investment Plan (Juncker Plan).

In addition to the EIB financing, the project will receive another €50m loan from various financial institutions through a project finance arrangement for the construction and operation of the new facility.

Currently, 400 people have been employed by the company for the construction of the plant. In addition, once commercial operations begin, around 35 people will be hired on a permanent basis. The project is expected to create 100 additional indirect jobs in the waste supply chain.

Slated to open in 2020, the Curtis-Teixeiro plant not only increases renewable energy generation capacity but will also help Spain in meeting carbon reduction targets set in the National Renewable Energy Action Plan 2011-2020.  /


UK Government provides £16m for Supergen energy research centres

/  The UK Government is to provide £16m to support the launch of three Supergen energy research centres covering bioenergy, offshore renewables, and energy networks. The new hubs will assemble energy experts from 19 universities and 70 partners from outside academia.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which is leading the funding, has raised £150m over the past five years, supporting seven new hubs with the aim of easing the transition to low carbon energies and reducing carbon emissions in the UK.

Each of the three Supergen energy research centres will receive £5m, with the remaining £1m going towards the SuperSolar research network led by experts at Loughborough University. The network will include ten universities and six partners, primarily from the solar industry.

Loughborough University professor Michael Walls at the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology (CREST) said: “Solar research in UK universities is world-class and has a clear line of sight to real-world applications. EPSRC funding of solar research over the past five years has resulted in a number of fundamental breakthroughs that are now leading to exploitation and impact.

“The global market for solar panels is growing at an incredible rate and offers outstanding export opportunities to UK companies. One of the objectives of the solar network is to make sure that the innovations created in the universities are communicated to UK industry and then translated into new products and processes.”

An EPSRC spokesperson said: “As the hubs will be working in a multidisciplinary way and with industrial partners, they will accelerate the development of new energy systems and production of power, which will help the UK to deliver on its carbon targets, achieve more secure, affordable and sustainable energy production for all its citizens, and tap in to a global energy market looking for new approaches and technologies to tackle global energy challenges.”

The UK Government invested £42m earlier this year in establishing a new battery storage centre in Oxfordshire, commissioned by the Faraday Institution. This is being used to reduce costs and address challenges in new battery storage technology.  /


Total to acquire gas-fired combined cycle power plants in France

/  Total has signed an agreement to acquire two gas-fired combined cycle power (CCGT) plants in north and east France from KKR-Energas.

The two CCGT plants have a capacity to generate 825MW of electricity.

Financial details of the deal have not been divulged by the two companies and completion of the transaction is subject to approval of the relevant authorities.

Total Gas, Renewables and Power president Philippe Sauquet said: “This acquisition allows Total to continue its integration along the gas and electricity value chain from production to marketing.

“With the addition of two gas plants acquired from KKR-Energas and a growing portfolio of renewable power, the group will have the capacity to generate over one-third of the cumulated consumption of its B2C and B2B customers.

“Gas-fired power generation sources are an ideal complement to intermittent renewable sources of electricity. These flexible power plants enable the group to optimise the cost of electricity supply to its customers.”

Earlier this month, Total acquired a 73% stake in the French electric utility company Direct Energie for €1.4bn.

At the time of acquiring stake in the French utility, Total chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné said: “This operation allows us to accelerate our integration downstream along the full gas and power value chain and to reach critical mass in the French and Belgium markets where we are growing fast.”

Total also owns two power plants, each with a capacity of 400MW, in France and Belgium.

The company is also planning to develop another 400MW plant in the Brittany region.

Within the next five years, Total aims to achieve a 15% share of the B2C gas and electricity supply market in France and Belgium.  /


Dominion Energy commits 3,000MW new solar and wind power by 2022

/  Dominion Energy Virginia has launched its new grid transformation programme, with an objective to have 3GW solar and wind power by 2022.

As part of this initiative, the energy company has filed its first set of the plans under the Grid Transformation & Security Act (GTSA) to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) for approval.

The regulatory filing includes programmes, investments and costs included in the first three years of the 10-year grid transformation programme.

Going further, Dominion Energy Virginia intends to submit an updated plan to SCC and request approval of additional programmes.

The GTSA legislation, which was signed by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, became effective from 1 July and provides a roadmap for Virginia’s energy future.

Dominion Energy Power Delivery senior vice-president Ed Baine said: “Thanks to the Grid Transformation & Security Act, Dominion Energy plans to develop a system that meets the increasingly complex demands and expectations of our customers.”

The law is expected to provide a platform for new and additional investments in the renewable energy segment as well as incorporating smart grid smart grid technologies and implementing a stronger, more secure grid and energy efficiency programmes.

The GSTA includes provisions for millions of dollars in bill credits, rate reductions for customers, and expansion of the EnergyShare programme in order to support the most vulnerable citizens in the state.

GSTA also offers a provision for testing wind turbines off the coast of Virginia Beach in the near future.

In the filing submitted to SCC, Dominion Energy has included a proposal to add 240MW of solar energy in Virginia.

Later this year, the company also intends to seek SCC approval for its proposed Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind project.  /